As we do often on the weekends, my wife and I went to the local mall. We rarely buy anything, but spend some time walking around in a climate-controlled area, looking at people. We like to walk, but with summer suddenly upon us, we like to do it with a minimum of perspiration. Our mall is rather small, with what some would call an uninteresting collection of stores. There are two small department stores and an assortment of small corporate stores. There is no food court, just two sit-down restaurants and a pizza place. I digress. I am not writing this column about the mall. I am writing this column as an exposé of a subculture among us older folks. A subculture that makes some look at us as if we are crazy and delusional.
My wife had seen something on the internet — on Pinterest or Facebook or something like that — that she thought was, in her words, oh so adorable. So, here I was tagging along while my wife shopped for clothes.
For the cat.
Readers of this column have been introduced to our cat, Cooper, already. He is a 2-year-old, long-haired, part Maine Coon. He, thanks to my wife, has his own social media accounts that are filled with goofy pictures, anecdotes and stories, and silly things said as if Cooper typed them himself. He has developed an online persona that is quite the opposite of Grumpy Cat. I guess if we were hard-pressed to give him some dumb internet name, Cooper would be “Indifferent Cat.” He’s very tolerant, good-natured and pretty much up for anything. Basically, he is a four-legged, furry frat boy with a tail.
And now, thanks to my wife, he has a summer wardrobe. I thought this was crazy until she shared the pictures on Facebook. Suddenly, her Facebook feed lights up with pictures of dogs and cats wearing all kinds of T-shirts and such. There’s a German shepherd wearing a “Keep On Truckin’” shirt. I’ve never seen a shepherd drive so much as a car, but I imagine he could probably drive a truck if he put his mind to it. There’s the little Maltese wearing a bright pink “My Mom And Dad Went To Jamaica And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt” shirt. And, of course, Cooper, with his grey pirate T-shirt. One woman posted a picture of a guinea pig wearing a tutu and a little tiara. Admittedly, it was kind of cute until I read that the guinea pig was named Gary and was not too thrilled about the tutu or the tiara.
My wife explained to me that Cooper wore an infant’s size 6-9 months T-shirt. I don’t know how she determined this. I can’t see my wife taking Cooper to the children’s department of the local department store and making him go into the fitting room to try on an armload of shirts. Our 15-year-old daughter doesn’t like going into fitting rooms by herself, so I can’t imagine a 2-year-old cat would either. I told her if she was doing to do this to the cat, at least buy the shirts, bring them home for Cooper to try on and then take the ones he does not like or don’t fit back to the store. Yes, I just composed that sentence. I really don’t care what shirts Cooper likes or does not like. It’s not like he’s out in the neighborhood running around with his pals and one of them suddenly thinks he’s a nerd because he’s wearing an Avengers T-shirt. I suggested that she buy solid colors. This way, Cooper is always in style.
It seems, for years, people have been dressing their pets. The majority of the world’s well-dressed animals seem to be dogs and cats. Little dogs have been wearing argyle sweaters as long as I can remember. There was a schnauzer in my neighborhood when I was a kid that seemed to have an endless supply of tartans. I thought that was odd because he was a schnauzer and not a Scottie dog, but I guess they don’t make little lederhosen for dogs. The little hat with a feather would have been cool, though. The venerable St. Bernard is a troublemaker, though, basically running around nude with a container of booze around his neck.
There is a man here in town that spoils his dog. I see him and his little dog everywhere. He carries a folding stool with him and while his wife shops, he and the little dog sit on the stool and wait. The dog is a Maltese and she is impeccably groomed. Her nails are painted. She has little outfits and bows in her hair. I mentioned this guy and his dog to some local friends and I was told they see him as well and some have stopped to talk with him and the dog. It is said the couple never had children and this little dog was the closest to a child they ever had.
I can respect that. I understand both the bond between a person and their pet and a bond between a person and their child. Sometimes, the lines blur and that’s just fine with me.
Cooper sometimes thinks my wife and I are his parents. Now he has clothes. I guess I can deal with that if my wife thinks it’s cute and Cooper doesn’t hate it. I’m not looking forward to the day he asks me for the car keys.